The Melt, a fast-casual eatery founded and headquartered in San Francisco, experienced a 70 percent drop in sales overnight when shelter in place began. However, today their record sales are higher than ever due to prioritizing their teams’ wellbeing and focusing on the interests of the local community.
At the onset of the pandemic, The Melt recognized the fear and uncertainty their teams faced when businesses shuttered due to shelter in place. Despite revenue at historically low levels, The Melt made the decision to guarantee their team members’ paychecks, whether they came into work or not. At the same time, they realized that due to shelter in place restrictions, first responders had become some of their most frequent guests. As a small token of their appreciation, The Melt decided to offer all first responders their meals for free.
“We felt like it was the least we could do for people who were literally putting their lives on the line for us,” says The Melt’s CEO, Ralph Bower. “The decisions we made at the onset of the pandemic were made because they felt like the right things to do for our teams and for our communities. We never dreamed there would be such a positive response. We prioritized having the backs of our team members and our community, and as it turned out, they had ours as well.”
By delivering free meals to first responders, especially the medical community, The Melt teams were energized with a renewed sense of purpose by serving meals during an unprecedented time.
Strong partnerships with local businesses including Impossible Burger, Ghirardelli Chocolate and delivery partners, coupled with donations from customers enabled The Melt to continue their offering through June.
“We were quickly gaining recognition from people in the community, helping to raise our brand awareness,” adds Bower. “We were not only strengthening bonds with our team members but we were strengthening our bonds with the community as well. This brand awareness helped guide our growth throughout the summer and early fall.”
The Melt’s decisions paid off with unprecedented sales. The Melt La Jolla has seen the most dramatic growth with sales levels nearly triple the same time last year. It was no coincidence that the restaurants with the highest sales growth were those that distributed the most meals to first responders. The results have exceeded anything Bower has seen in his 30-year restaurant career. Today, sales are more than 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and the past several months have consistently seen record sales.
Industry veteran, Ralph Bower joined the West Coast favorite as CEO in 2016. Upon Bower’s appointment, he immediately undertook an extensive listening tour to gather customer insights, which resulted in a comprehensive review and overhaul of The Melt’s menu. The updated menu—with its improved grilled cheese, fries, soft serve, and the new signature MeltBurger—is a reflection of passionate customers’ feedback and The Melt’s dedication to serving all-natural, nostalgic American classics in a warm, welcoming environment.